U of T communications win rare ‘grand gold’ recognition at CASE District II awards

UTogether logo

UTogether2020: Building U of T’s “caring community” was recognized with a grand gold award.

University of Toronto communicators were recognized with 29 awards and three rare ‘grand gold’ wins this year from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II competition – nearly double the achievements of last year. 

Judges praised U of T’s expert handling of communications during challenging times, calling the work “current yet optimistic,” and “compassionate and very effective.”

“In 2020, we worked with our communications colleagues across the university to tell our pandemic story in an easy to understand and engaging way,” said David Estok, U of T’s vice-president of communications. “We succeeded thanks to the breadth of our team’s expertise, talent and commitment. Everyone was called upon to think differently during an incredibly challenging time. I’m immensely proud of what we collectively accomplished.”

The university’s wins included three grand golds, eight gold, 10 silver, six bronze, as well as an honourable mention and a finalist position in platinum or “best in” categories. A grand gold is the highest level of recognition in the program, awarded to an entry that is extremely exceptional or “game-changing.” They are rarely awarded and only one may be given in a category. 

U of T Communications (UTC), which received 23 of the 29 awards, was recognized with a grand gold for the “This is U of T” video in the News and Research Videos category. The video featured President Meric Gertler and highlighted the university’s historical accomplishments and work under COVID-19.



As one judge wrote, “This inspiring, beautiful video is all the more notable for managing to convey carefully crafted messaging in the midst of a crisis.”

The second grand gold was awarded to a U of T News story about students offering to help busy front-line workers with their domestic chores. The final grand gold was for UTogether2020, an innovative and comprehensive communications effort that supported the university’s pandemic response and helped to encourage and build U of T’s “caring community.”

The CASE awards recognize outstanding work in news and feature writing, photography, best practices in diversity, media relations, strategic communications and brand marketing. 

The awards showcase innovative work at institutions in the largest of CASE’s eight districts, including schools like New York University and Johns Hopkins University.

The following are the awards won by communications staff from across the university:

U of T Communications:

Platinum category

  • Best Practices in Communications and Marketing: Honorable mention – UTogether2020: Building U of T’s “caring community”
  • Best in Photography: Finalist – Meet Anne Dale, Dentistry’s Unofficial Historian


  • Communications Pivot: Grand Gold – UTogether2020: Building U of T’s “caring community”
  • Communications Pivot: Gold – 3 Qs at the U
  • Media Relations: Gold – Media relations and the Flight PS752 tragedy
  • Media Relations: Silver – Increased performance for the Breaking News Experts
  • Communications Pivot: Bronze – This Is U of T

Digital Communications:

  • Social Media: Silver – 3 Qs at the U
  • Websites (Micro-site): Bronze – UTogether2020: COVID-19 recovery micro-site


  • General Interest: Silver – University of Toronto Magazine (Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020 issues)


  • General News: Grand Gold – “COVID-19: Students offer health-care workers help on the home front” by Geoffrey Vendeville
  • General News: Gold – “U of T physician builds virtual ER system” by Rahul Kalvapalle
  • Feature: Gold – “The Power of Good Intentions” Autumn 2019 issue, by John Lorinc
  • Feature: Silver – "The Truth Saved My Life" Spring 2020, by Rahul Kalvapalle
  • Research, Medicine and Science News: Silver – “U of T, Sunnybrook develop tools to combat coronavirus” by Geoffrey Vendeville
  • Profile: Bronze – “The value of education: ‘I had to fight for it’” by Rahul Kalvapalle


  • Series of Photographs: Gold – “Taking a Stand,” Spring 2020 University of Toronto Magazine Spring, by Luis Mora
  • Series of Photographs: Gold – Remembering the victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 by Nick Iwanyshyn
  • Individual Photographs: Silver – U of T physician builds virtual ER system by Johnny Guatto
  • Individual Photographs: Bronze – Twin sisters Mikhaela and Nakeisha Ekwandja’s portrait by Nick Iwanyshyn
  • Series of Photographs: Bronze – “The Power of Good Intentions,” Autumn 2019 University of Toronto Magazine, by Brett Gundlock


  • News and Research Videos: Grand Gold – “This Is U of T”
  • General Information: Gold – “This Is U of T”

Other U of T awards:

Advancement services

  • Donor Relations & Stewardship: Silver – Clark Report, University College


  • Marketing Improvement: Bronze – Virtual Convocation Promotion, Faculty of Arts & Science


  • Student Recruitment – Publications Packages: Gold – University of Toronto Viewbook Overhaul, Student Recruitment
  • Student Recruitment – Individual Publication: Silver – Within Reach: How to Finance Your University of Toronto Experience, Student Recruitment
  • Publications Pivot: Silver – University College Perspectives on COVID-19, University College

Special events

  • Special Events Pivot: Silver – Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, University College

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